Expanding Medicare could cut costs, offer health care...


June 25, 2000

Expanding Medicare could cut costs, offer health care for all

The Sun's article "Medicare HMO to freeze rolls" (June 17), which noted that CareFirst intends to join other insurers in cutting the elderly from its rolls, makes more evident the fraud that for-profit HMOs have foisted on our society.

As long as these HMOs could cherry-pick enrollees, taking only those least likely to require medical care (such as younger workers), they were hailed as the answer to our health-care cost dilemma.

Their CEOs, other nonmedical administrators and stockholders walked off with obscene sums as compensation.

But when the HMOs were pushed into accepting the Medicare population that naturally required more care, they began experiencing the losses anyone familiar with the system could have predicted.

The United States spends almost 15 percent of our gross national product (GNP) for medical care, yet millions remain uninsured. Canada and other advanced nations use about 10 percent of GNP for health care and cover all citizens.

I've never been an advocate of big government. However, the Medicare program is one of its more successful ventures.

Even including the fraud that has been exposed in Medicare, its administrative costs are significantly lower than that of our presently floundering private system.

A logical first major step in providing all citizens adequate medical care would be to enlarge the Medicare program to include everyone.

Dr. Marion Friedman


Shortage of nurses cuts quality of care

Who's surprised about the "most intensive nursing shortages in 40 years" ("Nurse shortage puts strain on hospitals," June 19)? This has been coming for years and hospitals are its cause.

I've been an active registered nurse for more than 25 years and, although I loved working in intensive care, I'd never go back to hospital nursing as it is now.

My nursing friends are leaving hospital positions in droves because the patients are sicker, the nurse-to-patient ratios get worse and worse, the older, more experienced (higher salaried) nurses are let go to be replaced by less expensive, younger (less experienced) nurses or technicians or the positions are not filled at all.

The stress of not being able to deliver the kind of nursing care that made us want to become nurses, because of a lack of staffing, is the heartbreaking reality.

Just ask any nurse where she or he will be if a family member needs to be hospitalized -- at the relatives' bedside to be sure all their needs are met.

Penny Brown

Bel Air

A message about prison that could scare kids straight

Ricky Williams' splendid column "Prison is really `a living hell'" (Opinion

Commentary, June 19) told a heart-wrenching story.

It could be a valuable teaching tool and should be used by all community leaders.

If groups could be invited to listen to the message contained in the article, I'm reasonably sure a number of people could be convinced they are now following the wrong path -- a path of destruction -- and that change can save them from a life of misery.

The message should be read from the pulpit, at group assemblies and by social service officials.

I would love to see an all-out effort to get the message out.

Richard G. McQuay


Death may be more humane than a `living hell' in prison

Ricky Williams wrote a very graphic description of what life is like in prison ("Prison is really `a living hell,'" Opinion

Commentary, June 19).

Does this not emphasize the fact that a gentle death by injection is much more humane than a long term in prison?

The Rev. E. Arthur Bonney

Seaford, Del.

Jackson has made himself a merchant worthy of respect

The Sun's insinuation that Kenny Jackson got preferential treatment and does not deserve what he has worked for is preposterous ("City's buyouts on west side include felons," June 4).

A lot of young black men grew up in east Baltimore, got into trouble as youngsters and were never able to pull themselves out of the hole that they dug.

Many spend their adult lives in jail or are killed on the streets of Baltimore.

Mr. Jackson got in trouble, paid his debt to society and for the past 10 years has not been charged or convicted of any wrongdoing.

During this time he has successfully operated the El Dorado Lounge. Mr. Jackson has worked hard to maintain a viable business and has proven to be an asset to the merchant community.

A dozen more Kenny Jackson's working on the west side would go a long way toward insuring this area's future redevelopment and success.

Milt Rosenbaum


The post office really does care about the community

The recent letter "The post office may be its own worst enemy" (June 16) critiqued the United States Postal Service (USPS) as being "indifferent" and advocated e-mail as an alternative.

While I agree that e-mail will speed certain correspondence, our experience with letter carriers refutes emphatically the reference to indifference.

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